Monday, March 15, 2010

Pride of Baghdad

Some of the most creative and inventive stories over the past decade have come from the mind and pen of Brian K. Vaughan. His Vertigo series, Y: The Last Man, and his Wildstorm Ex Machina, are both highly original ideas that cover a range of issues including racism, sexism, gender inequality and politics while still remaining true to life and great reads. That's the bottom line in the end: his books are great reads. They entertain and make you think all at once. The stories are like a Deadpool comic, but good...and entertaining.

Brian K. Vaughan is most notable for his work on Lost seasons 3 to 5 (the hard filler years), and his comic book X and Y series, but mixed in these notations of achievement should be mentioned his graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad. PoB had been a book I wanted for quite some time. It was that book you see at the shop that you always heard great things about but could never bring yourself to buy. When Christmas came along I knew it would be the perfect gift, but did not put it on my list for fear that several people may get me PoB. So I kept it close to my heart where only certain people would be able to find my interest in it. One such person discovered PoB in the back of my mind and deep in my heart. They reached in and retrieved it for me as a very special Valentine's Day present. Needless to say I was surprised and filled with excitement when I opened my comic of the day, Pride of Baghdad.

Spoiler Alert! Beyond this point details from the book are revealed!

So did the book live up to the hype? Definitely. Pride of Baghdad is a short true story about a small pride of lions who escape the Baghdad Zoo when the U.S. Military bombs the city in 2003. The actual events of the lions taking to the streets and running into a large malicious bear before their inevitable end is fictional, but their release and destruction is very true.

The release is the important aspect to the lions' adventure. It symbolizes how the U.S. Military "released" the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's regime. It was done in a quick and destructive fashion with no regard for what was being freed. The lions even mention that freedom must be earned to truly exist, or something to that nature. The short journey of the pride is a tale of caution. The four lions inevitable end shows us that even the best of ideas (freedom) can come to the worst of conclusions.

I would be lying if I put all of my enjoyment in the words of Vaughan. Artist Niko Henrichon pencils the story of his life in Pride of Baghdad. The lions look absolutely beautiful. In every positions and with every patch of fur Henrichon creates characters we literally feel purr and growl. His other animal drawing are also amazing including the panel when a giraffe's head gets hit with a missile and explodes: graphically brutal, yet displayed perfectly. The lion faces express so much emotion that one gets caught up in the story and forgets that these are animals speaking to each other. Henrichon creates art that adds gives Pride of Baghdad the "Cars" treatment.

In Pixar's "Cars", the movie is about a bunch of cars which talk to each other and are anthropomorphic (non human characters receiving human like characteristics). While I was first watching this movie I thought, "Am I going to be able to watch a whole movie with talking cars?" Five minutes later my answer was yes. At first all you notice are cars talking and it looking funny, but then the advanced art and story kicks in and you don't even notice the goofiness anymore. In this fashion, Niko Henrichon and Brian K Vaughan pull off a story which is serious without falling into a child-like "Lion King"-esk story.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Spoiler alert...the lions die???!!!!

Dom said...

I added a Spoiler Alert. I know you read PoB already anyway.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you're talking about...

Dom said...

Comment Scanned...

The "..."s tell me you are being sarcastic or joking in some way.